(Translation of a discourse on "Tirthasevan Ka Mahatva Aur Prayojan ")
Let us begin with the collective chanting of the Gayatri
"Om Bhur Buvaha Swaha, Tatsaviturvarenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi,Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat ||"
Sisters and Brothers,
"Tirtha" a holy place of pilgrimage hearing this word itself is so soothing! It fills our hearts with sacred feelings and joy. Just, imagine! How beatifying the tirthas must have been in their original forms, when the transforming spiritual vibrations of the Tapa-Sadhanas of great rishis and siddha saints were intensely tangible in these places? Pilgrimage to such places used to cleanse the pilgrims’ inner selves, wash out their evil tendencies and open up before them the path of righteous living. It must have been truly purifying and enlightening to live there for sometime!
I do not know whether bathing the physical body in the water of holy rivers like Ganga washes away your sins or not. But, I can assure you that if you take a deep plunge in the spiritual Ganga of divine knowledge at a vibrantly alive tirtha, it would not only cleanse you from within, but also enable you to keep the ’cloth’ of your life always ’clean’ in the future as well. Why? How? Because, you have practiced penance and devotions at such places and performed sadhanas in the spiritually empowering ambience there. You seek guidance of the elevated devotees and sages there to solve the problems of your worldly life, to get rid of your shortcomings. You derive inspirations and mental strength from their ennobling and enlightening company, teachings and blessings. All these help in cultivating virtuous tendencies (susanskaras) in you. The latter become intrinsic and an integral part of your nature, if you also assimilate these teachings and inspirations in your conduct and deeds; if you follow an altruistic, duty-bound life imbued with high moral values.
You think that just worshipping the God and chanting some mantras or reading devotional epics like the Ramayana would do everything towards your self-realization. No. This itself is not sufficient to inculcate the susanskaras. Sentiments, thoughts and corresponding actions the integration of these alone can complete the process of cultivation and sprouting of the noble sanskaras. In fact, spirituality
also means awakening and expression of susanskaras. And, these are generated only by the righteous integration of knowledge (Gyana) and deeds (Karma). Divine prayers, worships, devotional practices, japa
(rhythmic enunciation or chanting of mantras), meditation, swadhyaya
and satsang1 pertain to what is essential for the knowledge aspect of sadhana.